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First Haitian American elected civil court judge in NY

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Lawyer Dweynie Esther Paul created history Tuesday night by becoming the first Haitian American to be elected as a New York State civil court judge.

Paul – who was born in Queens, New York to Haitian parents, and currently resides in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn – ran unopposed for Kings County (Brooklyn) Civil Court Judge, representing the second Municipal District.

That district encompasses the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights and Ocean Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

“To whom much is given, much is required!” Paul told the Caribbean Life on Election Night Tuesday. “I am so very blessed and honored to be in a position to serve the entire Kings County community.

“Today, we have made history together,” she added. “I share this moment with the Haitian community and our greater Black Pan-African community. This victory is a result of the coming together of our communities, our talents and our resources.”

“It also comes from a strong desire to see a just and equitable judicial system,” continued Paul, stating: “I hope to live up to the values and aspiration of this community, as I carry out my duties. I want to thank all those who supported me, my family, my parents and God.”

Haitian American New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, was among local legislators who supported Paul wholeheartedly.

“I know Dweynie Paul to be an intelligent, thoughtful and selfless person, and I know she will make decisions with compassion, but based on the law,” said Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who had also created history last November, when she was elected as the first ever Haitian American from New York City to the New York State Assembly.

“I am proud of my Haitian-American sister, whose historic victory is shaking the spirit of our Haitian ancestors,” added Bichotte about Paul, who was Bichotte’s campaign manager in 2012, when she first ran for a seat in the State Assembly.

Paul said she had the experience, integrity and compassion to become a Civil Court judge in Kings County.

With a passion for justice and the community, Paul said she began to pursue a career in law and public service.

She attended State University of New York’s (SUNY) Stony Brook University, where she obtained a dual bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Social Science, with a minor in Child and Family Studies.

While in college, Paul said she studied in England at Middlesex University, in its Legal System Program, and interned with the British Labor Party (equivalent to the U.S. Democratic Party).

On returning to New York, Paul said she interned with Judge Daniel Lewis of the Criminal Supreme Court in Queens County, New York and continued her education with Stony Brook’s Graduate Program, obtaining a master’s degree in Public Policy.

Afterwards, Paul said she attended George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., where she obtained her Juris Doctorate (law degree).

She said she began her legal career in the court system as a judicial clerk for Judge Marcella A. Holland in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

In that role, Paul said she researched legal issues in civil, family and criminal matters; drafted opinions; recommended decisions; and conducted conferences with litigants “in an attempt to resolve disputes.”

Up to her election on Tuesday, Paul was an “In-house counsel” for an unidentified insurance company, representing clients in New York Supreme, Civil and Small Claims courts.

She said she litigated on wide-ranging issues, such as contract disputes, premise liability, personal injury, property damage, products liability, intentional torts, and lawsuits related to residential and commercial real estate claims.

For over 10 years Paul said she has practiced law throughout New York City and New York State, but has “never wavered” from her commitment to the community.

As the director of Community Service for the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and as a member of Community Board 3, Paul said she has developed programs and workshops, “which have served to create greater access to justice, resources and information for our communities.”

She said she is “committed to serving the residents of Kings County,” adding that, in that commitment, she will create “equal access to justice.”

Besides Bichotte, Paul said she was, among others, endorsed for the Civil Court judgeship by the Brooklyn-based Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), Community First Democratic Club, and many local elected officials, including Assemblywomen Annette M. Robinson and Latrice Walker.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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